New research is indicating that eating peanut butter regularly as a preteen and teen girl appears to decrease the risk of developing benign breast disease as an adult. And benign breast disease, which is noncancerous changes in the breast tissue, can lead to breast cancer.
The research included more than 9,000 females, when they were young women, from ages 9 to 15 from 1996 until 2010. What they found is that eating peanut butter three days a week reduced the risk of developing benign breast disease by almost 40 percent.
Benign breast disease is actually fairly common, and a known risk factor for breast cancer. Prior to menopause, about one in four women have a benign wound, confirmed via a biopsy. Depending on the traits of the benign lesion, benign breast disease could increase the risk of breast cancer by threefold.
The researchers examined foods with vegetable protein and vegetable fats, and then focused on individual foods, including peanut butter, peanuts (or other nuts), beans and corn. A daily serving of any of these foods was linked to an almost 70 percent reduced risk of benign breast disease. At the age of 14, a daily serving of any of these foods was linked with a 65 percent lower risk of benign breast disease, and females who had about three servings a week of peanut butter had almost a 40 percent lower risk.
The researchers found a link between eating peanut butter and a lower risk of breast disease, not a cause-and-effect relationship. In previous studies, the researchers examined other factors of a healthy diet – such as drinking milk – and their role in breast health. The peanut butter finding is strong, even when considering an overall healthy diet.
It’s difficult to explain the link between the two at this point, but in countries where less meat is eaten, less risk of breast cancer risk has been reported. Based on the study findings, teen girls and preteens shouldn’t avoid peanut butter and nuts, unless they are allergic. Getting some protein through vegetables, which was also looked at in the study, is a good idea, too, he added.
It’s always good to lower any risk of breast cancer that you can, but whether peanut butter consumption will have a major impact on not developing breast cancer down the line, only time will tell.